Bento Du Jour – Autumn/Winter

Lunchbox Bits and Pieces:

  • I sneak extra green leaves into the toddler by blending them into pestos, sauces and smoothies or chopping them super fine and adding to savoury muffins, fried rice, stews and curries. Thankfully she’s still too young to figure it out that she’s eating spinach if it doesn’t look like a leaf (18 months).
  • Don’t limit green leaves to kale, spinach and chard – use herbs and the tops of root vegetables like carrot tops, turnip tops and beet tops.
  • Add seeds to everything. They’re delicious, add instant nutrition and good fats, and bonus – they won’t kill any nut-allergic kids at school.
  • My kid is salt-obsessed. It’s not ideal but kind of inevitable considering my tastes. I use miso paste a lot so she gets the saltiness with the added probiotics. And nutritional yeast – it makes everything taste salty and slightly yeasty like vegemite.
  • Generally the main part of her lunchbox is leftovers from dinner the night before or I’ll quickly cook some cous cous or pasta and add a pesto or sauce from the fridge.
  • I use a Meals In Steel box and Kai Carrier bags. The teachers at creche often heat the young one’s food but if you have school-aged children there are some great thermal containers available these days. Like here and here.
  • Chia pudding takes 1 minute to make and 5 minutes to thicken. I just combine chia seeds, frozen berries and coconut yogurt (or you can use coconut milk, soy milk, almond milk). The above links also have leak-proof containers for lunches that go in school bags
  • I always keep pickles, yoghurts and fermented foods in the fridge, and fruit in the fruit bowl as quick snacks and lunchbox fillers. If you spend a little time making your own fermented foods it’s a great way of preserving produce and is WAY cheaper than buying it. We get our fruit from a local vege co op, forage in parks and the Chch red zone and swap food with friends who have fruit trees – if you stick to what’s in season it’s cheap/free and yum.
  • Usually once a week I’ll make one of the following and keep in the freezer for easy snacks throughout the month: savoury muffins, empanadas, filo parcels, samosas, raw balls. It’s worth the 1/2 hour every week (or 1.5 hours if I have the time and  patience to have the toddler “help”).
  • Every time I make rice I make extra and fry it the next day with finely chopped veg.
  • Every time I make lentils I make extra and put it into a pie or lasagne or something another day that week.



Garlic & Thyme Borlotti Beans; Wholemeal Penne with Carrot & Olive Oil; Carrot top & Pumpkin Seed Muffin; Avocado; Kalamata Olives; Radish; Raspberry Coconut Chia Pudding with Frozen Half Grapes; Fairtrade Banana



Kim Chi Fried Brown Rice; Cucumber; Fairtrade Banana; Green Kiwifruit; Spinach Flatbread; Dried Dates



Red Cabbage Creamy Quinoa Fusilli; Linda McCartney Vegan Sausage Rolls; White Carrot & Kale Savoury Mini Muffin; Apple Slices; White Carrot Sticks; Cucumber; Orange Slices; Frozen Blueberries



Miso Sesame Roasted Pumpkin; Agria Potato & Purple Cabbage Poêlée; Avocado; Vietnamese Spring Rolls; Lentil Mini Empanadas; Radish; Ciabatta with Tahini; Fejoa; Apple-Sweetened Dried Cranberries.



Pumpkin & Pea Risotto; Spiced Black Beans; Purple Potato & Golden Beet Chips; Carrot & Carrot top Savoury Mini Muffin; Kalamata Olives; Smoked Coconut Cheese; Sauerkraut; Fejoa; Apple-Sweetened Cranberries; Frozen Blueberries; Coconut Yoghurt



Lentil & Chard Spaghetti Bolognese; Kalamata Olives; Smashed Pumpkin; Sauerkraut; Radish; Japanese Turnip; Brown Rice Cake; Dried Apple Slices; Dried Cranberries; Spirulina & Blueberry Chia Pudding



Spicy Autumn Tagine; Moghrabieh with Parsley & Preserved Lemon; Pitted Olives; Lebanese Bread; Hummus with Sumac; Chopped Dates with Toasted Seeds



Chickpea & Spinach Curry; Brown Basmati; Steamed Broccoli; Bellbird Organic Sourdough with Mushroom Paté; Sauerkraut; Tumeric Pickled Courgette; Kiwifruit; Pumpkin Seed Raw Ball; Blueberry Coconut Chia Pudding



Potato, Cauliflower & Leek Purée; Linda McCartney Vegan Sausage; Sauerkraut; Peas; Pickled Golden Beets; Cucumber; Kiwifruit; Blueberries; Pumpkin Seed, Coconut, Chia Seed & Date Muesli.



Purple Cabbage, Mushroom & ‘Chicken’ Green Curry; White Basmati Rice; Cucumber; Nigella Seed Bread with Pumpkin Hummus; Sauerkraut; Gerkins; Sundried Tomatoes; Nut-free Scroggin



Puy Lentils with Garlic & Purple Cabbage; Cubed Agria with Porcini Salt; Ciabatta with Vegemite & Tahini; Mushroom Paté; Sauerkraut; Pitted Olives; Cucumber; Carrot; Fejoa; Apple; Cranberries; Sunflower Seeds



Fried Noodles with Tempeh, Red Cabbage and Daikon; Rice Crackers; Olives; Vegan Blue Cheese; Chickpeas; Mandarin; Coconut Yoghurt; Kiwifruit



Leek & Vegan Cheese Farinata; Pumpkin Hummus; Garlic-Braised Brussel Sprouts; Roasted Potato & Jerusalem Artichoke; Gerkins; Vegan Pepperoni; Kiwifruit; Chia Coconut Pudding



Green Mac’n’Cheese; Pickled Golden Beets; Stewed Purple Cabbage; Mini Lentil Empanadas with Nan’s Tomato Relish; Radishes; Papa’s No-Knead Ciabatta; Cucumber; Raspberry & Coconut Chia Pudding.


Bento Du Jour – Autumn/Winter

Veganniversary/ Mushroom & Hazelnut Pâté Recipe

It is 20 years since I became vegan! That means two things: I must be old, and everyone who thought it was ‘just a phase’ can suck it.

So of course I threw a wee dinner party. I was planning a big party thing but, y’know, working mum… winter nights… Anyway I’ve decided that I can keep celebrating throughout the year so stay tuned for some celebration/fundraiser gigs around the place.

Between the bad lighting, the many wines we blind-tasted and the frantic plating (how the hell do you keep the food warm without lamps?!), there is a distinct lack of good pictures of the evening but here is the menu: (Recipe Below.)

Veganniversary Menu:

Mushroom & Hazelnut Pâté , Baguette, Pickled Slippery Jack Mushrooms

Tongue in Groove 2015 Little Stomper orange wine

White Bean & Garlic Soup with Garlic Oil

The Bone Line Barebone 2016 Chardonnay

Roasted Pumpkin, Fried Kale, Toasted Pumpkin Seeds, Sundried Tomatoes, Wild Parsley, Micro Coriander, Tahini & Pomegranate Dressing, Sumac

Campo De Gules 2013 Crianza

Whole Roasted Green Cauliflower, Purple Cauliflower Chips, White Cauliflower Puree, Roasted White Carrot, Carrot-Top Pesto, Fried Onion

Barbera – can’t remember which

Dessert & Cheese Platter: Lupo Black Pepper Almond Cheese, Fresh Figs, Dark Chocolate, Frozen Grapes, Apple Jelly, Pineapple Sage Flower Mini Cheesecakes (adapted from The Minimalist Baker

Coffee, Pineapple sage tea, Pegasus Bay 1997 Finale dessert wine



Mushroom & Hazelnut Pâté



1/2 cup hazelnuts
2 tablespoons vegan margarine
1/2 large onion
2 cloves garlic
500-700g mixed mushrooms
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1 teaspoon good quality salt
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
pinch of cayenne pepper
150ml vegetarian chicken or mushroom stock
1/2 teaspoon agar agar

If you’re using whole hazelnuts, crack open in a mortar and pestle and discard shells. You want about 1/3-1/2 cup of shelled nuts. Spread on a tray and roast in an oven for 10 mins at 200 degrees celsius until dark brown. Cover in a clean tea towel and rub to remove skins. Set aside.

Peel and roughly chop onions and garlic. Cut mushrooms into cubes.
Heat margarine in a large frying pan, add onion. Fry for a few minutes until starting to soften, then add mushrooms, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper and cook down until mushrooms are soft and liquid has evaporated. Take out of the pan and leave to cool.

Blend toasted nuts while pouring olive oil in slowly. Blend until a smooth paste. Add cooled mushrooms and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Blend again.

(You can use this as it is – just transfer into a clean jar and spread on toast.)

Heat stock in a small pan until almost boiling. Add agar agar and stir continuously for 2-3 minutes to dissolve. Pour the liquid over your pate and mix until well incorporated.

Crush some whole peppercorns in a mortar and pestle until half-crushed – you want some chunks rather than smooth powder. Spoon pepper into molds and shake gently to coat the bottom. Gently spoon your pate into the molds, pressing and tapping to fill the space. Put into the fridge to set. Agar sets really quickly but the flavours develop with time so ideally prepare it 1-2 days before serving.

*(I used a blend of wild mushrooms – porcini, puffball and birch boletes. Wild mushroom will always give a stronger, more complex flavour but you can use button, shiitake – whatever edible mushrooms you can get your hands on).

Veganniversary/ Mushroom & Hazelnut Pâté Recipe

Early Autumn Savoury Muffins

I never want to see another courgette. Ever. Or at least until next Summer after several months of limp-dick supermarket zucchs at a million dollars per kilo. This year we had a glut. It’s been great but I have pickled, preserved, frittered, fried, gratin-ed and made a freezer-load of rattatouille and I’m officially over them. Here is my last-ditch effort to use up the final few while sneaking green stuff into my toddler’s lunchbox.



 Courgette, Spinach and Basil Mini Muffins

1 Cup grated zucchini
a few spinach leaves
1/4 small red onion or 1 spring onion
2-3 sundried tomatoes
a handful fresh basil leaves

3/4 Cup soy or almond milk (preferably unsweetened)
5 Tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons cider vinegar

2 Cups white flour
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon mixed dried herbs or fresh chopped parsley (optional)

Finely grate courgette (if you squeeze liquid out of the courgette you’ll need to add slightly more milk later on.) Finely chop onion, dried tomatoes, basil leaves and spinach, mix with courgette and set aside.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

Combine milk, vinegar and oil in a small bowl.

Mix flour, yeast flakes, pepper, salt, baking powder, baking soda and dried herbs in a larger bowl then add liquids and veggies. Stir to combine but don’t over-mix. Add a little extra liquid if the mixture is too thick. Spoon into mini muffin tray and bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden. Makes roughly 20 mini muffins.


Early Autumn Savoury Muffins

Mushroom and Cranberry Stuffed Seitan Christmas Roast


Serves 4-8 (depending on greed)

I don’t own any measuring cups due to some weird anti-exactness rebellion, but in an attempt to add order to my recipes I have included measurements in the form of spoons. Feel free to ignore/adjust quantities. This dish is Vegan and most certainly not glutenfree.

Seitan dough:

Dry –

7 Tablespoons gluten flour

1 Tablespoon white or wholemeal flour

2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast

1/2 teaspoon Smoked paprika

2 teaspoons Onion powder

1 teaspoon Garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

Wet –

4 Tablespoons smashed borlotti beans – With liquid! (pinto beans are also good)

2-3 Tablespoons olive oil

200ml vegetarian chicken stock

2 Tablespoons light soy sauce or tamari

2 teaspoons tomato paste



1/2 brown onion (finely chopped)

8 brown button mushrooms (crimini) (finely chopped)

3-4 dried sage leaves

1/2 teaspoon Dried mixed herbs (such as herbs provencal)

1 Tablespoon vegan margarine

1 Tablespoon white or wholemeal flour

1-200ml Porcini or shiitake stock

1 Tablespoon dried cranberries

8 Tablespoons cooked (short or medium grain) brown rice

2 Tablespoons chopped cashew pieces


soy sauce

maple syrup

vegetarian chicken stock

salt and pepper


Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl.

Smash the beans with 1-2 tablespoons of cooking or can liquid and combine with olive oil, chicken stock, soy sauce and tomato paste.

Mix wet and dry ingredients together to form a dough – adjust with extra flour or water as needed. Knead the dough for 2-5 minutes (or as long as you can be bothered – it’s still good without kneading) and set aside while you prepare the stuffing.

In a wide pan, cook the chopped onion for a few moments, then add chopped mushrooms, a little salt and pepper and cook on medium heat until soft. Add dried mixed herbs and crumble in your sage leaves, stir. Add margarine and then flour, stir to create a roux. Slowly add your mushroom stock, stirring to avoid lumps. Add cranberries and cashews and cook for 3-5 minutes until sauce thickens and cranberries soften. You want the consistency of a thick gravy – add liquid or cook off some liquid to adjust. Take off the heat and stir your cooked brown rice into the sauce. You should end up with a thick, even slightly gluggy stuffing mixture. If there is too much liquid put it back on the heat for a few moments.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celcius. Roll out the seitan dough on a large sheet of tin foil. As much as you can, try to create an oblong sheet of dough about 1 inch thick. It won’t be exact, gluten dough is tricky to work with but even if it looks super rustic at this point, it will look better when cooked! Spread the stuffing across the dough and carefully roll the dough around the stuffing to make a log, pinching the ends if stuffing tries to escape. Use a little water to seal the log and wrap the whole thing tightly in the tin foil – ideally like a candy wrapper with twisted ends. Put into a roasting dish and cook for 50-60 minutes, turning 90 degrees every 15 mins.

Mix the glaze ingredients together, taste and adjust until you like it. Maple syrup is best but sugar or strong fruit juice would work. Set aside.

After about an hour, take the roast out of the oven, remove tinfoil and pour glaze over the roast, coating all sides and leaving the roast sitting in a little liquid. You can score and/or decorate with cloves or orange slices or rosemary at this point if you want.

Return the roast to the oven uncovered for 10 minutes, then remove and rest somewhere warm for at least 10 minutes before carving into slices – serve with a good vegan gravy and an excellent Pinot Noir.

Merry Christmas!


Mushroom and Cranberry Stuffed Seitan Christmas Roast

What Vegan Babies Eat Part 2


Anaïs has two tiny teeth! As cute as her very small toothbrush is, teething has been a bitch so in desperation I have become the type of person who makes homemade popsicles and teething pastes:

Banana Ice Bites

Blend: 1x banana, a dash of organic soy or almond milk, 1-2 teaspoons of chia seeds and 1 teaspoon of dried goji berries. Pour the mixture into an icecube tray and place 1x wooden popsicle stick into each cube (it’s ok if they fall over). Freeze for at least an hour. Alternatively you can pour the mixture into a wide container like a cake tin. Then just cut into cubes or long sticks as needed to give to baby. They can handle a fairly large chunk in their mouths as it melts quickly and is fun (and soothing) to roll around in the mouth and chew.

Homemade Teething Paste (doubles as a toothpaste)

In a bowl, mix: 2 Tablespoons of coconut oil, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1 drop of clove oil, 5 drops of strong camomile tea, 5-10 drops of Weleda Toothache Drops (or arnica drops). When well incorporated put into a clean baby food jar or small container. Rub a small amount on the gums twice a day. *clove oil is super strong so check the paste on your own gums first to make sure the dilution is weak enough for your baby.

And here is some more of what she’s eating/drinking now:

  • oranges! (Yay for August in NZ)
  • porridge cooked with cubed pears and chia and/or sunflower seeds
  • banana icecream and banana ice bites (recipe above)
  • orzo (risoni) cooked with tinned tomatoes, chopped spinach, coriander and garlic (just throw a whole piece of peeled garlic in and mash it when soft – tastes sweeter that way)
  • toast fingers with hummus, smashed avocado or cashew cheese spread (recipe below)
  • cooked, smashed black beans on small pieces of soft corn tacos
  • overcooked broccoli florets with toasted sesame seeds
  • quinoa cooked with pumpkin chunks or grated carrot
  • chunks of kiwifruit
  • cauliflower pieces roasted with olive oil (and sometimes cumin/lemon juice/paprika)
  • brown basmati rice cooked with onion, tomatoes, smoked paprika and capsicum (kind of like a baby vege paella)
  • brown lentils cooked with kale and onion
  • mushroom risotto
  • broccoli and almond soup
  • cous cous with lemon juice, parsley and a little watered-down tahini
  • cabbage miso soup (recipe on earlier blog entry)
  • cubes of tofu baked in a little fresh orange juice, a dash of sesame oil and a dash of tamari
  • vegan potato gratin
  • truffled cauliflower (see photo above)
  • salt-free kale chips
  • pasta with kale pesto
  • pearl cous cous with coriander pesto and chopped preserved lemon
  • camomile tea
  • rooibos tea


Cashew Cheese Spread

I have no idea about quantities for this… I make it like I make hummus. I’ve guessed here but please adjust to taste.

Soak a couple of handfuls of cashews for 24 hours (super cheap if you buy broken, bulk cashews). Drain, rinse and put into a blender. Add: 1 clove of garlic or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1-2 Tablespoons of nutritional yeast, 1-2 teaspoons of salt, 1/2 teaspoon white pepper, 1-2 Tablespoons of either lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, some water. Blend. If it’s having trouble getting smooth, add more water. Blend until super smooth. If you’ve added too much water, place a sieve over a bowl, line with linen or cheesecloth and scoop mixture into lined sieve. Press and mix with a spatula until the consistency you want – too dry and it’s not spreadable, too wet and it’s unpleasant. You want it kinda like hummus in texture. Place into a clean jar and leave overnight for flavours to develop. Keeps well for a week or so.

Experiment with adding smoked paprika or herbs. My favourite combo is some fresh thyme and parsley and lots of black pepper.



What Vegan Babies Eat Part 2

The Superhero Diet

Flip’s Vegan Pregnancy ‘Go-Suck-It-Old-School-Preggo-Books-And-Un-informed-Doctors’ Diet – Winter Edition

At 22 weeks I am finally winning at pregnancy. I totally thought I was going to be a whinging pain for nine months but I was only a whinging pain for three, now I’m annoyingly perky. (I’m keeping some whinging in the bank for late pregnancy, don’t worry).

My super sense of smell, which made me gag at everything not long ago, now makes me salivate at everything. And just like all good romances, being apart from good food has only strengthened my love for it.

Mostly my ‘pregnancy diet’ looks like my normal diet, it just has slightly more carbs in the form of wholegrains and I’m more aware of sneaking nuts, seeds and green leaves into everything. Below is an example of what I’ve been eating. If you would like the recipes to any of these dishes, just comment and I’ll knock some ingredients out of my memory-brain for you.

Mon Regime:

I start most days with lemon water and wholegrain toast with Vegemite, tahini, lemon juice and black pepper. Then a small coffee.

Every afternoon I drink either a fresh juice (usually ginger, apple, orange, carrot) or a smoothie (almond milk, goji berries, chia seeds, banana, mixed frozen berries).

I use around 90% organic ingredients, walk 20-30 mins every day and do pregnancy yoga every other day. Before you go thinking that I’m oh-so-fucking-virtuous, I also drink two coffees a day, one – two glasses of wine per week (70ml, not a ridiculous 250ml Kiwi pour) and I love salt (so cankles are likely to be in my near future).

In terms of ‘banned’ foods, I have stopped eating sprouts and leftover rice but I haven’t given up tahini. It’s one of my favourite foods and I figure if I use a good quality one and keep it fresh, it’s fine.

Here are some of my recent meals:

Sesame Soba Noodle Salad with Wilted Spinach, Pak Choy and Shiitake Mushrooms (this photo is a summer version of the salad with cucumber instead of green leaves).


Wholegrain Penne and Pumpkin Salad with Tahini, Lemon and Garlic Sauce


Vermicelli Salad (this pic has fake chicken but I usually use tofu in this salad)


Scrambled Tofu with Kale

image (4)

Quinoa and Mesclun Salad with Toasted Seeds


Green Lentil, Mushroom, Walnut and Mizuna Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette and Nutritional Yeast


White Bean, Kale, Carrot and Potato Cassoulet

Vegan Dandan Noodles


Vegan ‘Chicken’ Noodle Soup


Black Bean and Garlic Soft Corn Tacos with The World’s Best Guacamole


Asian ‘Mezze’ – Sticky Rice, Miso Soup with Wakame and Kombu, Salt and Pepper ‘Chicken,’ Homemade Kim Chi, Asian Greens in Spicy Sauce


Vegan Dumpling Laksa


Red Lentil, Kumara, Potato and Pea Curry with Brown Basmati

Fat Rice Noodles in Sesame, ‘Oyster,’ Ginger, Chlli and Garlic Sauce with ‘Chicken’ and Mushrooms

Root Vegetable Tajine with Harissa and Flat Breads

The Superhero Diet